I found some old boxes stored away in my in-law's cellar that my wife and I dumped there when we first moved out west almost 11 years ago. The side of the cardboard box read 02/13/97, the date the box was manufactured. I remember distinctly picking up a bunch of brand new crisp boxes that year as we prepared for this new chapter in our lives.
I recall being painfully aware that we were paying by the pound to ship our goods across the country, and I had the rather unpleasant task of deciding which half of my large record collection was to be left behind. I still shutter at the memory.
Now, almost 11 years later the boxes were starting to disintegrate. A cloud of premillenial dust assaulted my senses as I opened one box filled with long forgotten clothing. An old coat that I adored in the mid 90's now appeared as ash gray compared to the crisp black it was back in it's prime. The stench of the ancient and disregarded old wool sweaters was palpable and I do hope that the folks at the Salvation Army where we donated them today are able to dry clean them before turning them back on the public.
There was also one box of books that had remained untouched for over a decade. There was an Edith Wharton novel, a biography about Oscar Wilde (essential for any true Morrissey fan) and in the spirit of what interested my 11 years a go, a book about the "hot button" issues on university campuses across Canada in the mid 90's. This was a remnant of the culture wars of the time, the agonizing debates about political correctness that all seem so quaint now compared to what is going on in the world today.
Interestingly, although there were some items that epitomized a wonderful time in my life I didn't feel terribly attached to them upon unearthing them today. It made me realize more how fleeting are the things we place value in at any given moment and how quickly things change in terms of what is important and what occupies our minds.
I think that if many of us deliberately put some personal treasures in a short-term time capsule and opened them up 5 years from now we would see most items as being utterly incomprehensible compared to where we are at that moment. I don't think this is necessarily because we "evolve", but more the result of how life thrusts us in so many unpredictable directions, leaving behind faint reminders of where we once tread.
In closing, it is relevant to note that the dust from inside the sweater box left a very strange taste on my tongue, and I began to wonder what strange particles from 11 years ago were drifting through my body as I inhaled them. Perhaps microscopic fragments of the 1997 version of me are now floating inside me, saying a quick hello to my brain and forcing me to muse in such a manner as this...